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Friday, Jul. 3, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Hardee’s b-holes — do they sell?

By John Quarto-vonTivadar
July 3rd, 2009

I recently viewed this Hardee’s Ad and thought, “Can this be real?” It seems Hardee’s now sells little breakfast items that compete with donut holes. And this ad takes a blind taste-test theme, wherein the participants choose between the “A-holes” and the “B-holes”. (I swear, I’m not kidding)

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Now I’ll be the first to admit: normally this sort of humor is right up my alley — I’m the one in the FutureNow office who sees “giggle-value” every time a new iPhone flatulence app comes along — but seeing this as an advertisement was funny the first time, and each time I re-watched I became less and less enthusiastic and more and more offended. What’s next? Shall we be subjected to Dunkin’ Donuts Butt Munchkins?

I’m guessing most people would be offended by this ad. But leave personal sense of what qualifies as funny aside for a moment, and consider: At the end of the day, the purpose of the ad is to sell more product. Perhaps in this case one might argue the real focus is on creating product awareness, so that at some point in the future I *might* try the product. Either way, I’m dubious as to whether the ad does anything more than make me aware of Hardee’s new product but lacking the inducement to act.

Did you watch the video? What’s the actual product name? As I wrote this post,  I had viewed the video 8 times, but actually cannot recall the product name since my mind wants to refer to it as “Hardee’s B-holes”. Now there’s an anti-inducer.

What do you think? Offensive, or just puerile humor (not that there’s anything wrong with that, fellow South Park fans!). And what does it say when the more times the audience is exposed to the marketing, the less likely the viewer is to choose the product, or even remember its name?

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Comments (32)

  1. [...] I recently viewed this Hardee’s Ad and thought, “Can this be real?” It seems Hardee’s now sells little breakfast items that compete with donut holes. And this ad takes a blind taste-test theme, wherein the participants choose between the “A-holes” and the “B-holes”. Click here to view the embedded video. [...]

  2. I found it pretty memorable. Recalled the name after only one viewing. I’d try a Biscuit Hole if there were any Hardee’s around here.

  3. hmmmm.. I watched it once and will again, it totally made me giggle which is why I’ll watch it again. However, the only thing that sticks in my mind is that guy at the end that claims he’s a B-hole kind of guy. Too funny, loved it – but will NEVER ear either one – not the a or b hole.

  4. opps mis-spelled a word at the end of my comment. I’ll never eat (not ear) any type of hole. whew – glad I fixed that one.

  5. I don’t think it matters at all that you can’t remember the product name (I can’t either). To me, this is clearly designed to “put Hardee’s on the map.” It works for me. As for the vast prudish American population, I’m not so sure.

  6. Ha ah ha ha, A-Holes!! lol!

  7. Biscuit Holes! He says it right in the beginning. I think it does a great job of painting the competition as nasty and themselves as good.

    That said, donut holes are awesome and Hardee’s should be blown out of the water for besmirching the sanctity of donuts, and donut holes.

    -M

  8. I’m not a native English speaker so I probably don’t understand half of it, but when you are in a store next time and are looking for a product in that particular “sector”, won’t seeing the brand name ring a bell now?
    I guess that wouldn’t be a bad result?

  9. It sure makes for an engaging blog post headline.

  10. You didn’t get the name because they didn’t want you to. They finish with “Go to NameOurHoles.com”. Don’t go there – you seem to be easily offended :)

  11. Hahaha, what a fail at advertising. Everything has a time and place, and an ad like this can work in 2 cases imo: if you’re trying to increase brand awareness (at which they apparently failed) or if you have all the brand awareness you need and can do something funny (see: pepsi ads).

  12. I remembered the name and overall the thing raises brand awareness, but in no way does it make me want to actually eat the product.

  13. Hey John, own up, are you working for Hardee’s? If you are it’s working out OK. If you aren’t, I guess it’s working even better since they’ve got this debate for free. How many viewers does grokdotcom have?

    I think the one thing they’ve got wrong is the url at the end wasn’t flashed for long enough and obviously lots of people are missing it. They are trying to create debate about the name, and it’s working isn’t it?

    I would try the product too, if it were available in the UK. I’m easily tempted to eat crap though, it has to be said.

  14. I think it’s funny and I like that in an ad. However, this ad fails in the way most ads do. It in no way makes me want to try the product because I wasn’t inclined to in the first place.

  15. Ok, they got something else wrong. The entry form to submit names insists on a US zip code, which I don’t have so I can’t enter. Shame, I had a killer name for them.

  16. I think the ad is great. Funny, memorable, and only a self-righteous prude would find it offensive. It definitely makes me want to try one, so mission accomplished.

  17. 8 times? Since you watched it 8 times, then I’d call this a success. As marketers, it’s not about us and what we think – it’s all about the “others” which are the masses. It’s what they think and do that matters. It’s crushing to think my opinion doesn’t matter … but it doesn’t.

  18. @MktgGuru: yes that must be me, a self-righteous prude. I guess I’ll have to resign my membership in the local kink club

    @Mom: just kidding.

    @Pete: I had to watch it multiple times *cuz i was writing a blog post about it*. I knew what my first reaction was and I wanted to see how it changed over time, to semi-simulate ad repetition. The more I watched it, the less engaged I was. That’s precisely *why* I blogged about it, since repetition of good marketing should not have that effect (worst case should be “numbness”).

    Right now based on this completely unstatistical sample of responses, it seems that most people found it funny (yes, intended by Hardees) but not nearly so many felt “oh man, I gotta try this!” (no, not intended by Hardees)

  19. Loved it because it caught me off guard and that’s when I usually laugh the most. It was the combination of the spot’s irreverence (including their related spots) and having grown up with the “Pepsi Taste test” that made me immediately share the videos with my colleagues who I wanted to see react to them. And we all had lots of laughs with no offence. In fact, it was just the opposite.

  20. John, I always get a kick out of you posts. So few comments on the target market for this one. My guess is 18-25 year old males will love this video. And since Hardee’s knows what’s on the minds of their target market (no matter how low and cheesy on the marketing scale), this is basic marketing success. Look at Burger King’s new ads too…sex, vulgarity and anything related sells to whom? 18-25 year old males…

  21. I think there’s definitely an upside to this for Hardees even if they don’t convert viewers into tasters. It kind of reminded me of the rebranding that clothing retailer French Connection went through in the UK. Within a short space of time that had put up posters in all their shop windows saying “FCUK” (French Connection UK.) It was shocking, but super effective and, over time, helped re-establish the brand as cool enough to buy from.

    I wonder if the same will be true for Hardees down the line.

  22. It’s funny. Comparing donut holes and their biscuit holes and using A vs. B to categorize.

    I watched it and got the product name after the first view. Then again, I’d read your article first, so I was probably paying more attention. Also, the product name is “biscuit holes” and that matches “B-hole”. So I get it and I remembered it.

    It’s simple, not too offensive, definitely crude, but ultimately funny. Plus, we all know that A-holes are bad ;)

    Will I seek out a Hardees and order this product? No, I’ve had juvenile diabetes for most of my life and wear an insulin pump, so fresh fruit please. But it got my attention.

  23. I think the ad is funny and could be easily recalled. Hardees is Carls Jr. here, but next time I roll through I would definitely be tempted by some biscuit holes for sure. :-)

  24. Recalled the name after one viewing. Easy! :-)

  25. I think that their intention was to create a viral viideo. It might work in the US, but for me it just is offensive. I think humour should be a bit intelligent.

  26. good post!
    I don’t think it matters at all that you can’t remember the product’s brand.
    thanks for the sharing.

  27. hmm, funny advertisement, but a little strange

  28. I work at a Hardees and I think this commerical does just what it set out to do, make you aware of the product and remember it. Weather you know the proper name or not, you know it’s there (you can find out the name when you get to one and view the menu) The proper name by the way, is Cinnamon Biscuit Holes (6 or 12 pack) :)

  29. As a European, I don’t see anything fun in this video. Quite boring actually. I don’t even remember the brand, lol.

  30. b-holes lol good post.

  31. Honestly this doesn’t suprise me. Controversial stuff sells like fresh donuts in the 21st centuray. No morals, no decency, no public outcry, just shock value.

  32. That said, donut holes are awesome and Hardee’s should be blown out of the water for besmirching the sanctity of donuts, and donut holes.

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John is the co-author of the best-selling Always Be Testing and 3 other books. You can friend him on Facebook, though beware his wacky swing dancer friends, or contact him directly at john@johnquarto.com

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